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What in the World Are We Going to Do With Schizophrenia? Sorting out schizophrenia is probably the second-largest challenge in psychiatry right now, the largest being sorting out "depression," which, like "schizophrenia" is composed of several distinct illnesses, but is much commoner.read more
What Rising Divorce Rates in Midlife Mean for You The graying of divorce statistics affects more than the midlife adults who have greater chances of ending their marriages through a breakup. The rise of divorce in the 50 and older population means that you, or someone you love, may be at risk for a host of problems in the years ahead. The good news is that there are ways to avoid become a victim of these statistics.read more
This column will change your life: do you feel a fraud? 'One of impostorism's frustrating ironies is that true frauds and idiots rarely seem to experience it'Impostor syndrome – the feeling that you're a fraud, and any day now you'll be exposed – is presumably even more common than surveys suggest: after all, it's not the kind of thing to which people like to admit. Indeed, it can be hard to tell when you've got it: those others might have a syndrome, your reasoning goes, but I'm genuinely out of my depth. It's a classic case of "comparing your insides with other people's outsides": you have access only to your own self-doubt, so you mistakenly conclude it's more justified than anyone else's. This is a strange kind of self-doubt, when you think about it, since it's premised on the idea that you're highly talented at something, namely deception. Still, it's no fun, and if new research is anything to go by, it might be harder to cure than anyone thought.Two US sociologists, Jessica Collett and Jade Avelis, wanted to know why so many female academics opt for "downshifting": setting out towards a high-status tenured post, then switching to something less ambitious. Contrary to received wisdom, their survey of 460 doctoral students revealed that it wasn't to do with wanting a "family-friendly" lifestyle. Instead, impostorism was to blame. They also uncovered a nasty irony. It's long been known that impostorism afflicts more women than men – one of many reasons that institutions match younger women academics with high-ranking female mentors. But some survey responses suggested those mentors might make things worse, because students felt like impostors compared with them. "One said she suspected her mentor was secretly Superwoman," Science Careers magazine reported. "How could she ever live up to that example?"This is only one of impostorism's frustrating ironies. Another is that true frauds and idiots rarely seem to experience it. ("The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt," said Bertrand Russell.) Arguably the worst one, though, is that getting better at your job won't fix it. Achieve promotions, or win accolades, and you'll just have more cause to feel like a fake. Enhance your knowledge, and as you expand the perimeter of what you know, you'll be exposed to more and more of what you don't. Impostorism, as Pacific Standard magazine put it recently, "is, for many people, a natural symptom of gaining expertise". Move up the ranks and if your field's even vaguely meritocratic, you'll encounter more talented people to compare yourself negatively against. It never stops. "I have written 11 books, but each time I think, 'Uh-oh, they're going to find [me] out now,'" as some low-profile underachiever named Maya Angelou once said.The only solution, many experts say, is for higher-ups to talk about their own insecurities much more. ("When people see those they respect struggling, or admitting they didn't know everything when they started, it makes it easier to have realistic opinions of their own work," says the Ada Initiative, which supports women in technology.) Few of us instinctively want to do that – least of all those with impostorism, or women in fields where stereotypes hold that they can't hack it. But if you're a higher-up yourself, you should try. One day, in an insecurity-friendly utopia, perhaps we'll look with scepticism on those remaining few who claim never to have felt as if they're faking it. Because they're probably faking that.oliver.burkeman@theguardian.comFollow Oliver on TwitterHealth & wellbeingPsychologyOliver Burkemantheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
C-sections not tied to obesity later on Babies born by cesarean deliveries are no more likely to be obese later in life than babies born vaginally, says a new study.
In animal study, 'cold turkey' withdrawal from drugs triggers mental decline Can quitting drugs without treatment trigger a decline in mental health? That appears to be the case in an animal model of morphine addiction. Researchers say their observations suggest that managing morphine withdrawal could promote a healthier mental state in people.
New study decodes brain's process for decision making Psychology and neurobiology researchers develop new brain imaging model to examine how memories are used in decision making.
Girls and Boys and Math Anxiety When you wander around college campuses, you see the effects of strong gender differences in preferences for majors. At many schools, there are far more women than men majoring in psychology and biology, but far more men than women majoring in math and engineering. read more
Depression therapy effective for poor, minority moms Faced with the dual demands of motherhood and poverty, as many as one fourth of low-income minority mothers struggle with major depression. Now a new study shows that screening for the disorder and providing short-term, relationship-focused therapy through weekly home visits can relieve depression among minority mothers, even in the face of poverty and personal histories of abuse or violence.
It's time to listen to the voices in your head | Charles Fernyhough and Eleanor Longden Voice-hearing is no longer seen merely as a psychiatric disorder, and could teach us a lot about how language operates in the brainHearing voices in your head when there's no one around ... that's a sign of madness, right?In the popular imagination voice-hearing is often viewed with fear and suspicion, frequently reified as a chaotic, corrupted symptom of illness. But that is changing, with a growing acceptance of voice-hearing as a profoundly human experience that can no longer be reduced to a mere symptom of psychiatric disorder. The work of Intervoice: The International Hearing Voices Network, and the enthusiastic response to Eleanor Longden's 2013 TED talk, which recounts her own journey to recovery from a demoralising psychiatric diagnosis, indicate the growing possibilities for people living with the experience to raise their voices with a sense of power and pride.This movement towards a better public understanding of voice-hearing has been mirrored by an increased interest in the scientific issues it raises. In recent years, academics from such diverse disciplines as psychology, philosophy, medical humanities, cognitive neuroscience, anthropology, theology and cultural studies have begun to reclaim it as a rich, diverse and complex human experience – one that offers abundant possibilities for scientific inquiry.Take, for example, the idea that voices often relate to trauma or adversity, particularly those suffered in childhood. This view, which has found expression in the personal stories of many voice-hearers, has been supported by a growing body of scientific evidence. But why should traumatic experiences early in life lead many years later to the experience of hearing a voice, or what psychiatrists call an auditory verbal hallucination?Recent investigations suggest that voice-hearing may provide fresh insights into traumatic memory, and how real-life conflicts become embodied in voices via dissociation (a defensive psychological response to trauma in which thoughts, emotions and memories become disconnected from one another). In turn, the experience that many voice-hearers describe – that of a disembodied "other" dynamically interacting with and intruding upon one's sense of self – invites exploration into how representations of selfhood are generated and maintained.Another approach that has proved fruitful is the idea that voice-hearing relates to one very ordinary aspect of people's experience: their inner speech. Most of us report talking to ourselves silently in our heads as we go about our business, and it has been proposed that voices result when a person generates a bit of inner speech but, for whatever reason, doesn't recognise it as their own. This view has received support from numerous studies with voice-hearing psychiatric patients, including findings that similar networks in the brain are activated when people hear voices as when they produce inner speech.Many problems remain however, including the fact that we know very little about the phenomenal properties of ordinary inner speech, such as whether it has the qualities of a dialogue or a monologue, whether it is fully expanded like ordinary conversation or whether it sometimes has a compressed, note-form quality. Voice-hearing itself comes in an even more baffling array of varieties, from experiences that have the full perceptual force of listening to a person speaking to those that are much more ephemeral and thought-like.Perhaps most importantly, the view of voices as disordered inner speech does not ring true with many voice-hearers' experience. And yet, at some level, an explanation of voice-hearing must have something to do with how language operates in the brain. Perhaps the biggest challenge facing research in this area is to try to link, and draw on the relative merits of, the trauma and inner speech models. How can adverse experiences early in life, perhaps through the complex, multifaceted mechanisms of memory, lead to alterations in the way words are processed in the brain, and in turn to the sense that one's self has been overtaken by other selves? Whatever the future for research in this area, it will require a continued focus on voice-hearing as a complex, heterogeneous phenomenon with many scientific secrets to reveal.Medicine Unboxed is a project that connects the public with healthcare professionals in a scientific, political and ethical conversation around the medicine, illuminated through the arts. For more information on this year's event, visit our Facebook page, follow @medicineunboxed, or visit our Pinterest boards to learn about the conference programme LanguageMedical researchPsychologyMental healthHealthCharles Fernyhoughtheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Hermann Rorschach Google doodle asks users to interpret inkblot test Swiss psychiatrist, born 129 years ago, invented – and gave his name to – inkblot test often used in psychoanalysisGoogle has celebrated the 129th birthday of Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach with a doodle showing his famous inkblot test.The black and white doodle features a cartoon of the psychoanalyst taking notes as disembodied hands hover holding a card displaying an inkblot.Different inkblots can be seen by clicking on the card. They include some spoofs – including a pair of gnomes, a pair of T-Rex-like dinosaurs and a butterfly hovering above a cat's face.Users are prompted to share their interpretation of the inkblots on social media, including Facebook and Twitter.Rorschach was born on 8 November 1884 in Zurich, Switzerland and developed his famous test in 1921.It comprises 10 inkblot images, which patients must look at and describe what they see.In some cases, focusing on tiny details around the edges of the images is seen as evidence of obsessive behaviour.After years of conducting the inkblot test on hospital patients, Rorschach wrote a book called Psychodiagnostik that describes how it could be an effective tool in psychoanalysis.He died less than a year later, aged just 37, after a ruptured appendix led to peritonitis.Advocates of the Rorschach test say it can reveal underlying mental issues that patients themselves may not be aware of, but critics dismiss it as out-of-date and it is rarely used in the UK.Google doodleInternetSearch enginesGooglePsychologytheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
American Psychological Association Statement Commending the Final Regulation for the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008
How Exercise Makes Your Brain Grow Research into "neurogenesis""”the ability of certain brain areas to grow new brain cells"”has recently taken an exciting turn. Not only has research discovered that we can foster new brain cell growth through exercise, but it may eventually be possible to "bottle" that benefit in prescription medication.read more
Concussed rugby players being put at risk Rugby players with brain damage are regularly being sent back onto the field because the sport's governing bodies are not taking concussion seriously enough, medical experts said.
Infant's gaze may be a sign of autism later in life How long infants spend looking at other people's eyes may be an early marker of autism, a new study suggests.
Why doctors are testing an epilepsy drug for alcoholism The drug appears to reduce cravings and ease sleeplessness and anxiety associated with withdrawal.
Reports of military sexual assault rise Pentagon figures show that sexual assult in the military increased dramatically during the last fiscal year.
Anxiety help comes, eventually, via primary care A study of anxiety sufferers who were engaged with primary medical care found that over a five year period seven in 10 received "potentially adequate" care, but it sometimes took years. Minorities were less than half as likely as whites to receive care.
Neither Victims Nor Executioners Today"”Nov. 13, 2013"”is the 100th birthday of Albert Camus, a great thinker, writer and rebel, and someone who remains especially relevant to our world, right here and now. If you really want to know the meaning of life ... read on!read more
Hugh Gurling obituary Psychiatrist and pioneer in researching the genetic factors in mental illnessThe pioneering psychiatrist Professor Hugh Gurling, who has died of a heart attack aged 63, was determined to find the genes that cause severe mental illness. His resolve to investigate the biological processes underlying devastating diseases such as schizophrenia, manic depression and alcoholism was very much at odds with the prevailing approach in the late 1970s, when the focus in psychiatry was on psychological and social factors.Despite scepticism and at times frank opposition, Gurling single-handedly obtained funding, and developed and led a research unit at University College London (UCL) now recognised as being at the forefront of psychiatric genetics. This field, these days involving hundreds of researchers around the world, is widely seen as potentially the greatest source of biological insights and advances in treatment.Gurling began his research career in 1976, studying alcoholism under the supervision of Professor Robin Murray at the Institute of Psychiatry, London. As part of this project, he sought to uncover genetic influences on alcoholism. This often involved him driving around London collecting blood samples and sometimes visiting patients' houses late at night.With the emergence of the "new genetics", he realised the potential to gain radical insights into the understanding of schizophrenia and manic depression. To this end, he collaborated with researchers in Iceland, where large family sizes and good genealogical records provided ideal material for his purpose. He began studying them with novel technologies to identify DNA markers for disease.A course at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1977 and a year as a visiting scholar and Wellcome training fellow at Stanford University's department of genetics in 1981 added to his skills. After gaining a Wellcome senior fellowship, in 1987 he moved on to UCL, where he set up a molecular psychiatry laboratory.The following year he published a landmark paper in Nature, which appeared to demonstrate that chromosome 5 harboured a gene for schizophrenia. Although the exact implications of this paper are still disputed, it served as a stimulus for the development of innovative techniques.His laboratory found genes that provide the code for neurotransmitter receptor proteins, variants of which are thought to be centrally involved in causing psychosis. He published a paper showing that highly informative markers called microsatellites could be used in gene-mapping studies, and subsequently it became standard practice to use panels of these markers to localise the genes responsible for hundreds of genetic diseases.As the research continued to progress and new technologies emerged, he seized on them enthusiastically. He was involved in work showing that small deletions or duplications of parts of chromosomes could cause schizophrenia. He published papers showing that changes to single DNA bases appeared to affect dramatically the risk of schizophrenia and manic depression.Most recently, he sequenced all 3bn DNA bases of 100 subjects with manic depression and identified a number of changes that might be causing disease. In order to confirm these findings, he arranged for these variants to be detected in samples of thousands of people with and without manic depression. The results had the potential to identify definitively which variants in which genes could cause the disorder. He died before receiving them.Hugh was born in London. His father, Kenneth Gurling, was a physician and inaugural dean of medicine at the University of Nottingham. His mother, Nonie Sempill, was a nurse. After attending Sutton Valence school in Maidstone, Kent, Hugh qualified in medicine at King's College London in 1973. He specialised in psychiatry at Guy's hospital and then the Maudsley hospital, and continued with clinical work throughout his academic career, notably with a psychiatric intensive care unit, which housed patients too severely psychotic to be safely managed on ordinary wards.Gurling excelled at sports – fives, squash and rugby – and threw the hammer for his county for several years. He derived enormous pleasure from listening to music of diverse genres and among the instruments he played were two from India – the sitar and its bowed relative the dilruba.Gurling married his wife, Meryl Dahlitz, an academic neuropsychiatrist, in 1987. She survives him, as do his children, Holly, Alisdair and Laurel, and sister, Catherine."¢ Hugh Malcolm Douglas Gurling, molecular psychiatrist, born 6 May 1950; died 2 November 2013GeneticsBiologyMedical researchPsychologyPeople in scienceMental healthHealthUCL (University College London)David CurtisJonathan Pimmtheguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Until Death Do Us Part Getting married in the face of death is the ultimate love story. It's also a lesson in hope. Why some couples say "I do" when a partner is about to die.read more